A group of 20 Rotorua IDEA support services workers are bracing the wind and rain this morning, chanting and picketing to improve their working conditions and contracts.

The Rotorua protestors are part of 3000 workers who care for the intellectually disabled in IDEA Services residential care homes joining a nationwide strike from 7am to 11am today.

They are based at the intersection of Ranolf and Amohau Sts.

IDEA Services staff protesting in Rotorua. Photo / Samantha Olley
IDEA Services staff protesting in Rotorua. Photo / Samantha Olley

They first gathered at 7am and have been buoyed by constant toots from busy morning traffic.

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Viv Jones has been with IDEA for 5.5 years.

She told the Rotorua Daily Post workers like her did not feel valued.

"We got equal pay, now they want to take conditions from us. We need things like penal rates, weekend rates, and safer working conditions."

Despite the cold and wet weather, she ensured she came along with her colleagues because "IDEA just won't talk to us in our negotiations, they've put our claims aside".

"If they don't listen they won't hold staff, there's already a high turnover."

Protesters at the intersection of Ranolf St and Amohau St. Photo / Samantha Olley
Protesters at the intersection of Ranolf St and Amohau St. Photo / Samantha Olley

This is the fifth year of Rawinia Thompson's employment with IDEA services.

She said the health and safety risks, due to short staffing, were her biggest concern at work.

"It's not just us workers it had an effect on, it's also those we look after."

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She has a broken leg and sat in a chair with an E tū flag and sign, but was undeterred.

"I'm thinking of the clients too today you know, they'll be upset today because they can't go to day services with the strike on."

Rotorua IDEA Services support staff are striking and picketing this morning as part of national industrial action.

Posted by Rotorua Daily Post on Sunday, 31 March 2019

A media statement from E tū union said staff were fed up with feeling overworked and undervalued, with understaffing leaving them working long hours and needing more pay to compensate for time away from family.

IDEA Services chief operating officer Joan Cowan said although there would be some disruption to some services, IDEA had ensured people with intellectual disabilities would be safe during strike action.

"Each area has a plan in place, and anyone who has concerns or questions is encouraged to contact their local area office."

She said IDEA Services remained committed to trying to achieve a collective agreement from negotiations with the union representing staff and was listening to them.

"We have been carefully considering all demands, either financial or otherwise, and are continually balancing staff remuneration with other quality improvement priorities."